Saturday, October 24, 2009

#72. 'Here's a message to you Rudy'

!!! "Me and Giuliani Down by the Schoolyard (A True Story)"

When it comes to the longer songs on this list the question that automatically comes to mind is 'do they justify their length?' I'm all for artists who use their more epic tendencies at their own will - hello, post-rock fan here - but when it comes to singles I'm somewhat hardwired to think of them as something a bit more streamlined. Of course one of the joys of the musical discoveries I made in the early part of the decade was that when you get into more underground genres the concept of a single gets obliterated. As such there are quite a few occasions on this list - OK, only 4 - where the so-called singles cross the 7-minute mark, something unheard of in the realm of the pop single. But for each of them it's still a question of whether they justify their length; does the song in question need to continue on past the 5 minute mark or is it meandering needlessly in spite of spreading its best parts over the full length? I'd argue that all teh cases of longer singles here the songs justify their length a few times over, either because it takes time to build the sort of tension that gives the song its power or because the song takes advantagr of the larger canvas to explore a more variable but still logical progression of sounds.

!!!'s breakout single "Me and Giuliani Down by the Schoolyard (A True Story)" falls definitively into the latter category. There's very little tension and release going on here, but the band expertly wind their way through a half dozen equally funky soundscapes without any of the transitions sounding jarring or half-baked. It's the ideal long-form single in that respect, carrying on a set theme - in this case that would be white-boy funk mach-2003 - without running things into the ground through excessive repetition. !!! don't limit themselves to the standard Gang of Four style that most of the dance punk revival was focused on either, there's nods to classic southern funk (those horns!) second- or third-wave ska (Specials quotes!) New Order (that bass line!) and DFA Records (those disinterested vocals!) in various sections. Yet it never feels like the transitions are forced or unnecessary. The way the 8-piece band comes together in key moments to move between two sections, like the build up at about 2:30, gives the song some absolutely breathtaking moments in the midst of the lightweight funkfest that should get even the most rhythm-averse among you to get up and awkwardly dance.

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